Thursday 9 February 2023

Barn Owl Watching.

 Over the past couple of months I've had several casual sightings of Barn Owls, but each time I've either ended up with no photos or more often photos that qualify as the worst photos ever taken of the species. 

As this is a species that I particularly like I was keen to try just a little bit harder, and after visiting a site with some of these beauties and watching the area where they appeared to hunt on a regular basis I had a couple of sessions where I tried to get in a position where I hoped to stay hidden from the owls.

On a particularly lovely late afternoon I had only been in position for a few minutes when the first Barn Owl flew around the area just in front of me and my first shot was taken.

Barn Owl hunting.

The owl then flew around the area for a couple of minutes more and then out of view. It was only a short while though before I spotted it flying straight towards me again and I was just getting it in the viewfinder when it landed in a bush straight in front of me. Although it could hear the shutter going off it fortunately didn't fly off and after a minute it turned away from me, although it was still looking around obviously hoping to see or hear a vole. Once again when the shutter went off it looked straight at me but clearly couldn't see me.

The owl eventually flew off but continued to hunt in the area. After one unsuccessful dive it landed on a fence post very close to me, although there was a large bush between us so I couldn't get any photos of it in this position, although I could get pretty good views of it through the binoculars. I had the camera ready in case it flew out sideways, but in the end it flew a few posts further away. The bush was still in the way but now with the owl further away I tried moving a little so I could get a clear view. I very carefully moved a little every time the owl looked away and I soon had a clear view of it. 

An unsuccessful Dive.

I enjoyed watching the Barn Owl as it surveyed the area in front of it, it wasn't resting though as it then heard a vole in the field in front of it and it flew just a few feet from the post and dived down catching a vole which it brought back to the post before swallowing it whole.

Barn Owl with Field Vole.

For another couple of minutes the owl sat on the post feeling pleased with himself and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

A Contented Owl.

Whilst all this was happening I spotted a distant Barn Owl that wasn't particularly happy that a Fox was using the same area as him to hunt.

Barn Owl and Fox.

The evening finished off with some excellent distant views of hunting Short-eared Owls. By now it was starting to get dark so the long walk back to the car, however, there were several owls of both species seen hunting across the whole area for the entire walk back.

The following evening I decided to try again. However, this evening was a lot less successful with the owls coming out almost an hour later, and very little activity in my chosen area and only one photo was taken of a Barn Owl flying towards me.